DC Comics reviews Sept. 7, 2016 – Aquaman, Cyborg, Supergirl, Justice League, Nightwing

Aquaman #6

Aquaman #6 cover

This is definitely not a case of an issue failing to deliver what the cover promises. Just as Aquaman and Mera think they’ve successfully fended off the U.S. military, Superman arrives on the scene. After the expected pleasantries and attempts at a peaceful solution, the rest of the issue is dedicated to Superman vs Aquaman and Mera.

Writer Dan Abnett doesn’t drastically reduce Superman’s power levels to make this a fairer fight. Instead, he lays it out in a manner to make use of Aquaman and Mera’s tag team tactics. Despite facing off with the DC Universe’s most powerful hero, Aquaman doesn’t give an inch making him really come off like a bada$$.

Aquaman #6 - Aquaman faces off with Superman

Brad Walker is back as the artist after several issues off. The fill-in artists have been fine, but Walker’s art is the most dynamic. Walker crafts some terrific perspectives during the fight scenes and strongly delivers on the issue’s big payoff.

Abnett also has Aquaman address his position among the various Justice League trinities in an insightful sequence. Meanwhile, Black Manta makes a big move with N.E.M.O.

With the return of Walker and a big time clash of superhero titans, Aquaman #6 shoots the title right back up to the top tier of the DC Rebirth titles.

Rating: 9 out of 10

Aquaman DC Comics Premium Format(TM) Figure

Justice League #4

Four issues in to its opening story arc and Justice League is still struggling to find its way.

Justice League #4 cover

The main issue is writer Bryan Hitch doesn’t have a strong handle on The Kindred and The Purge. As the big bad of this arc, The Kindred and The Purge have spent the majority of the first four issues posturing and discussing their vague end game. If it weren’t for the Kindred’s spider-like drones and extinction machines keeping the League busy, there would be little of consequence occurring. Even then it reads like Hitch is aspiring to crafting an epic Justice League tale without the clearest blueprint.

Justice League #4 panel art

In keeping the League members apart, Hitch has to devote too much time checking in on the lack of progress they’ve made. Hitch seems very out of touch with the portrayal of the rookie Green Lanterns Baz and Cruz. Their lack of experience and strained teamwork should result in entertaining sequences with them, but Hitch reduces them to characters with lasers.

Jesus Merino steps in to give Tony Daniel a break on the artwork. As far as substitutes go, Merino is more than capable. In several cases, Merino handles the large scale destruction and chaos Hitch envisions better than Daniel.

At this point it’s the artwork that’s driving the story. This hasn’t been an engaging story from the start and Hitch has done little to turn the tide. DC’s premier team book remains one of the weakest in the Rebirth era.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Nightwing #4

Tim Seeley smartly doesn’t try and drag Better than Batman out for a six-issue arc. Four issues is all that’s needed to tell the story of Nightwing and his new partner, Raptor.

Nightwing #4 cover

The new dynamic duo exhaust their long-game plan of tearing down the Parliament of Owls piece by piece and go for the jugular. But the Parliament’s Orator has some tricks to ensure the Owls don’t go down without a fight. No matter how seriously Seeley treats it, there’s something inherently goofy about Nightwing battling a monster owl/bat creature.

Javier Fernandez’s moody art works best in dialogue heavy and brief action sequences. Colorist Christopher Sotomayor continues to be a major asset to the title. Sotomayor’s uses of blues, oranges and greys strongly compliment Fernandez’s artwork.

Nightwing #4 - artwork

As much fun as Raptor has been, it was great seeing Nightwing interact with Damian Wayne and Batman again. Hopefully the next story arc will give Seeley an excuse to have Damian working with Nightwing again.

This was a solid conclusion to the Better than Batman arc. Nightwing might not be an elite level Rebirth title, but it’s consistency issue after issue makes it an easily recommended book.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Knightmare Batman Sixth Scale Figure

Cyborg Rebirth #1

DC waited a while before kicking off Cyborg’s solo series. The extended roll-out of the Rebirth line allows readers to avoid feeling overwhelmed with dozens of debut issues. It’s a smarter strategy than the throw everything at the wall approach for the New 52. That should help Cyborg find an audience provided DC gives the title enough time to develop a following.

Cyborg Rebirth #1 cover

Writer John Semper Jr. faces the difficult challenge of making Cyborg matter beyond his role on the Justice League. No matter the incarnation, Cyborg has largely been saddled with the team guy label. Cyborg now occupies the same space as Martian Manhunter where he was an invaluable Leaguer, but comic book creators couldn’t make his solo adventures engaging.

Judging by the Rebirth outing, Semper has a bit of an uphill battle. Some of the Rebirth titles have come out swinging, immediately hooking readers into the ongoing storyline. Others take more of a loose character setting approach to familiarize new readers with the character with basically an origin story.

While helpful for new readers, this wasn’t necessarily the best kickoff for Cyborg. While we’ve seen Batman’s origin repeated ad nauseam at this point, there’s so much more to the character than becoming an orphan thanks to a robbery. With Cyborg, being transformed into a mostly metallic hero is his be-all, end-all moment as a character.

Cyborg Rebirth #1 - panel art

Semper can be the writer to get Cyborg there. He instantly gets Victor Stone’s voice and with Paul Pelletier, Semper has a strong artist capable of delivering on whatever his imagination can conceive. The Rebirth issue finds Cyborg battling a mechanical monstrosity named Malware. It’s a typical smash and bash issue broken up with glimpses of Cyborg’s past. In an odd twist, both Cyborg and Justice League end on a similar note.

Cyborg Rebirth doesn’t provide the same wow factor as some other Rebirth debuts. Instead it offers some promise of better storylines to come. Hopefully Semper and Pelletier can reach that potential.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Supergirl DC Comics Premium Format(TM) Figure

Supergirl #1

Steve Orlando continues a rather convoluted reboot that isn’t officially a reboot with Supergirl.

Orlando has dutifully retrofitted Supergirl to be more in line with the TV series. This is a smart decision, but depends fully on readers’ devotion/appreciation for the show and its take on the characters.

Supergirl # 1 variant coverSupergirl laments being stuck with prehistoric Earth technology and is having a hard time adjusting to her new ‘adoptive parents’ Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers. Orlando nails the teenage dynamic even in this unconventional sense, but he leans a little too hard making Supergirl come off somewhat poorly.

Cat Grant makes her debut in the series, but amazingly Orlando’s take on the character is even more grating than the TV version. Both the comic and TV show make Cat this obnoxious Tony Stark type narcissist with none of the heroic charm. Orlando also introduces Ben, a classmate for Kara likely to be his version of James Olsen and Winn Schott.

Supergirl # 1 pages 2 and 3Brian Ching’s cartoonish style works with the lighthearted take of the series. It’s somewhat frustrating that so many of the DC female-focused titles feature such stylized art.

Supergirl is another Rebirth title that has potential, but the art style and TV influence might limit it to a niche readership.

Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Image Credit: DC Comics